ECONOMYNEXT- Chief Epidemiologist Dr Sudath Samaraweera said that the health authorities cannot accept responsibility for a large number of people taking medicine not approved by them in Kegalle yesterday.
Samaraweera was responding to the tens of thousands of people who queued up to get free samples of a concoction produced by a Shaman named Dhammika Bandara which claims to be able to both cure and provide immunity to the Covid 19 virus.
Speaking to reporters he said that the Health Ministry does not have the ability to intervene into the distribution of the medicine, a Syrup, as it is an indigenous medicine and there are separate regulations for that type of potion.
But, he said that the Health Ministry has the responsibility to check whether this medicine is suitable to be given to the general public before it is made available.
An expert committee is currently looking into whether the medicine works on infected COVID patients and prevents others from getting the virus.
Further, he said that the health authorities also cannot approve of the fact that people gathered in large numbers to take the medicine,
”Even if one Covid patient was present there, many would have got infected, which also lead to spreading of the virus in the country again,” he pointed out.
However, State Minister for Indigenous Medicine Sisira Jayakody says that Bandara’s product is “food-based and is not presented as a medicine.”
He also said that “clinical trials conducted at the Wathupitiwala Base hospital proved that Covid positive patients were cured after receiving this mixture.”
These trials involved 15 to 25 people both Covid positive and negative and a significant number were cured, Jayakody claimed.
Deputy Director-General of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath told the Daily Mirror the Drug Authority and the Food Authority of the Health Ministry has not recognized the Ayurvedic syrup touted by Bandara.
Kegalle District Secretary Mahinda Weerasooriya said yesterday that distribution of the potion in Kegalle was temporarily stopped awaiting the recommendations and approvals from the Health Ministry,
Tens of thousands of people gathered yesterday at Hettipola to get a portion of the syrup and among them were police officers and army personnel.
Bandara who addressed the gathered people said that the syrup would be given to 500 families which consist of 4-6 members and a quarter of a bottle was given to one member from each family.
According to Bandara, a COVID infected person should take the Syrup for three days while non-infected should take it for two days which will make him immune for COVID-19 for life.
Bandara also said that the government health authorities have not yet given their decision on the medicine and that he expects to give the medicine to all state institutions for free until the approval comes.
He requested the government to approve the medicine as soon as possible to and cure coronavirus.
Minister of Industries Wimal Weerawansa said that it is the medicine that should be looked into rather the person who made it.
He said some people are looking into the person who made the medicine to find out whether he is an Ayurveda practitioner who is licensed and registered.
Weerawansa said that the medicine is being tested by the Rajarata University and the results will be out by Sunday.
“If the medicine works and infected persons are cured and others won’t get infected by the virus, why do we need the story of the person who made it. If he says that Kali Maniyo (the Goddess Kali) said to him about the medicine and if the medicine is right then we have to accept it” he said.
Meanwhile, Police Media Spokesman Ajith Rohana said yesterday that a report has been called from the Assistant Superintendent of Police in charge of the Kegalle area on how such a gathering was organized in Kegalle.
Also, the Senior Post Graduate Ayurvedic Doctors Association said in a statement last week that the so-called “cure for COVID19” developed by an individual named Dhammika Bandara was produced illegally and doctors of Indigenous medicine should not be held accountable if the drug has an adverse effect on the public.
The association has also said that the producer of the medicine, a person who claims to be an indigenous doctor, is not registered with the Ayurveda Department.
The union questioned the process behind the manufacturing of the drug and its prescription for the public.
The Association said that the concoction used for the so-called cure is not registered with the Yoga Code Committee at the Department of Ayurveda. (Colombo/Dec09/2020)
Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe